Day 23: (21 miles)
mile 307.4 – 328.4 / 3545 ft – 3356 ft
Up and early, actually having had a good night’s sleep (even with the late night “interruptions”) we were off.
Destination, Lake Silverwood a mere 19 miles away. The trail was remarkably pleasant.
Elevation changes were stretched over several miles and the air was cool with overcast skies for most of the day.
Once out of the Deep Creek Canyon area we reached the spillway protecting the Mojave River Valley.
On we rolled through territory greener than we would ever imagine this area could be.
We have always wondered why anyone would live in this supposed “God forsaken area”, and now we see why…when it’s not hotter than hell.
Whispy clouds drifted overhead as the miles clicked down (or up). Along the way we had several snake encounters.
One which I don’t mind (cause they eat rattlers) and another that caused me to do the dreaded snake dance…again, and apparently “moon walk” backwards (according to Paul). Once the rattler went on his way, so did we. Paul believes my trail name should be “Dances with Snakes” or “Rattles” because I’m usually “rattled” for several miles holding my trekking poles out in front of me like divining rods tapping them together in an effort to warn snakes that we’re coming through…which Paul reminds me is a waste of time, because according to him my methodology hasn’t located a snake yet, which is true, but I feel better… or at least proactive. I’m thinking “One Speed” could be my trail name, as no matter how hard I try (or don’t try) I always seem to average only two miles per hour…it’s becoming annoying. And so goes the trek.
We stopped at our 10 mile or so mark, napped a bit and watered up for the next half of the day which was warming to a comfortable hiking temperature.
Alarmingly we have noticed what appears to be Poodle Dog Bush along the trail beginning near mile 319 reaching into the trail. We do our best to avoid contact with it and hope that will be enough…so far so good. The last couple of days we’ve been traveling in an unofficial group as we all end up at the major break stops and end points of the day. Typically we take the lead in the morning and one by they pass us. As they pass they ask, “How far ya going?”, we tell them and they’ll generally reply ” me too…see ya there”. Today’s end game was the picnic area at Lake Silverwood. After weaving along the hillside doing U’s and D’s (hiker talk for ups and downs) overlooking Green Valley, with small ponds and grazing cattle, the trail spills out just below the Lake Silverwood dam (pun intended).
We take an unusual route which takes us through a construction yard and a sidewalk…haven’t seen one of those in a while.(one would think it more comfortable to walk on cement, as did we, however our feet preferred the dirt as it offers more “cushioning”).
We walked along the shoulder of Hwy 138 for about a mile until it turned into lush vegetation and yes, trail magic. An ice chest with icy cold water.
We sat on the cooler, took a 10 minute break, shared a bottle of water (there was only one more left) and checked the log book stored in the cooler. To our happy surprise was saw that our friend Thayer who we had hiked with earlier (before I hurt my back) and Leon had come through only 5 days earlier , and Peru just the day before.
Finally we were atop the dam and the trail that runs around the lake. For some reason we thought the picnic area that we could see from across the lake was our destination, but as luck would have it when we arrived at the side trail to it and checked our mileage, we ironically had, 2 MORE MILES! Our (my) feet were starting to speak in “tongues” again, and our stomachs were growling. We passed the time and distracted ourselves from our feet prioritizing what we were going to do once we got to the actual destination. Rather than set up camp, take our boots off, clean up then eat, we rethought our approach. As we walked we first decided what, of what we had left, we were going to eat. As we were ravenous, we decided on some interesting meal combinations. Paul would have his freeze dried eggs with garlic mashed potatoes and a side of Knorr noodles with a granola bar for desert, and I would also have the freeze dried eggs but with chicken flavored instant rice with a king size bag of peanut M&Ms I had been saving. Food settled, we decided we would eat before we did anything else, then shoes, then set up camp and if we had any energy left we would clean ourselves up. We got to a point in the trail where we had to make a trail decision. Follow the trail or take a dirt road that looked like a more direct route to the picnic area where we could see thru hikers. Direct route it was. Thank goodness we took that route because we ended up getting into camp before a trio that had passed with about 1.6 mikes to go. They had ended up at Hwy 138 and had to walk back to the picnic area. They later remarked that it was the “longest 1.6 miles” they had ever walked. Imagine their surprise when they saw that the “old farts” had beaten them. For once we were not the last ones in! As we dropped our packs on the metal couches (aka. Picnic tables ), we saw that a car had pulled up adjacent the picnic area and pizza was being delivered. Was this a trail angel? No, but close enough as “Beowulf ” had the presence of mind to order up 10 glorious pizzas, three of which were “extras”, as he knew other hikers would be straggling in (us) and hadn’t had the opportunity to place their order. So in the can went the original dinner plans as we joined the pizza party now in progress.
What was originally a noisy cadre of people turned to a hush of chewing and mmmm’s, then laughter once we all realized how quiet it had gotten.
The ranger came by as we were setting up for the food coma that was brewing. Per the hikers that talked to him, we were fine sleeping on the lawn. This made Paul happy as his pad’s valve had failed and was leaking to the point he would end up flat on the ground before morning…at least the ground would now be somewhat “soft”. I remarked before we nodded off to sleep, ” Watch, with our luck the sprinklers will come on”, to which Paul replied, “Naw, the Ranger would have said something.”